Loud Awake and Lost

( 1 )

Overview

There was an accident. Ember knows at least that much. She was driving. The car was totaled. Eight months later, Ember feels broken. She can’t even remember the six weeks of her life leading up to the accident. Where was she going? Who was she with? And what happened during those six weeks that her friends and family won’t talk about?
 
In the wake of her critically praised young adult psychological thrillers, Tighter and All You Never ...

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Overview

There was an accident. Ember knows at least that much. She was driving. The car was totaled. Eight months later, Ember feels broken. She can’t even remember the six weeks of her life leading up to the accident. Where was she going? Who was she with? And what happened during those six weeks that her friends and family won’t talk about?
 
In the wake of her critically praised young adult psychological thrillers, Tighter and All You Never Wanted, National Book Award finalist Adele Griffin has created another triumph in this unflinching story of loss and recovery that Booklist called “exquisite” in a starred review.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/30/2013
Piecing together a teen’s forgotten past is the object of this mesmerizing romance set in the aftermath of a horrific car accident. The heroine, Ember Leferrier, who has suffered multiple injuries as well as amnesia, comes home from the hospital to family and friends who seem relieved that she’s back to her “real” self. Slowly, Ember gathers that she was not acting normally during the weeks before the accident and that a strange boy was also in the car, and didn’t survive. Mirroring the eerie atmosphere of Griffin’s Tighter, the novel traces Ember’s flashes of memory that draw her from her Brooklyn home to a darker place, where she meets and falls in love with a young artist. Keeping their relationship private causes Ember to act secretively, as she did before her accident, but if she can sort out her impulses to venture outside her safety zone, she might find the key to her memory loss. Astute readers may put together the puzzle before Ember does, but sorting hallucinations from reality is an intriguing and chilling mental exercise. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Booklist, November 1, 2013
"Two-time National Book Award finalist Griffin continues her exploration of the inner workings of the mind in this moving and surprising story...Griffin’s writing is exquisite, teasing meaning and memory from her sentences."

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2013:
"Readers will feel right at home with the dialogue; sarcasm, glee and angst are spoken in pitch-perfect teenagese...Ember’s unraveling of the mystery is compelling enough to keep the pages turning quickly and steadily. The startling conclusion itself is worth the ride."

Publishers Weekly, September 30, 2013:
"Piecing together a teen’s forgotten past is the object of this mesmerizing romance set in the aftermath of a horrific car accident...An intriguing and chilling mental exercise."

Shelf Awareness, December 3, 2013:
"Griffin's trademark atmospheric style is firmly intact. This moody romantic mystery will hit the spot for fans of Kat Rosenfield's Amelia Ann Is Dead and Gone and Nova Ren Suma's Imaginary Girls."

School Library Journal, November 2013:
"Griffin has crafted a story with well-developed characters and a suspenseful plot that keeps readers turning pages. Her exploration of traumatic brain injury, in particular the role memory can play in the healing process, adds depth as well as potential points of entry for discussion."

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December 2013:
"The device of the accident adds drama and mystery, but it’s also a very clever way to explore the significance of the common teenage experience of redefinition and its impact...The lure of secret romance and just plain secret secrets will draw readers to this inventive take on changing teen identity."

VOYA, December 2013:
"National Book Award finalist Adele Griffin creates yet another worthy young adult thriller, a compelling page-turner with a gut-wrenching plot twist...Fans of Griffin will be eagerly awaiting this title, and this latest standalone is sure to gain her many new ones."

Children's Literature - Bonita Herold
Afraid to face a future outside the hospital, Ember goes home after an eight-month stay after an accident. Starting with the excruciating pain, she remembers most of that time. But she does not remember the car accident itself or the six weeks prior to it. She is shocked to find out that she and her best friend were barely on speaking terms during that time. She knows her ideas about becoming a career dancer had started to evolve, but she does not know why or in what direction she had been heading. She is devastated to learn that a boy was with her when her car plunged into the water. She does not remember him at all. Who was he? Who was she? And then she meets her soul mate. She and Kai connect immediately, and she wants to get closer despite her feelings for Holden. Little bits and pieces of memory come to her out of the blue, and they both frighten her and soothe her. In this eerily intriguing story, Griffin successfully captures the highs of love and the devastation of loss. Readers feel for Ember as she tries to find her way as others actively try to shape her life. Reviewer: Bonita Herold
VOYA - Allison Hunter Hill
It has been eight months since a car accident stole, not only Ember's memories of how to dance and function in her own body, but also the memories that made up the last six weeks of her life before her car drove off a bridge and into the water below. Her parents are so relieved when she is finally released from the hospital that they treat her as if she could break again at any second, and are more concerned with restoring her normal life than chasing missing memories. But Ember cannot help but feel that behind her blocked memories of those six weeks lives a different Ember, one her best friend did not like, and that her ex-boyfriend hopes she will forget. Ember weaves her way back into her own past, memory by memory, clue by clue, until she is ready to find what it is she really lost that night on the bridge. National Book Award finalist Adele Griffin, author of Tighter (Knopf, 2011/Voya June 2011) and All You Never Wanted (Knopf, 2012), creates yet another worthy young adult thriller in Loud Awake And Lost, a compelling page-turner with a gut-wrenching plot twist. A narrative haze that calls into question the lines between past and present, memory and reality, envelops both Ember and the reader as they attempt to puzzle out this psychological mystery. Fans of Griffin will be eagerly awaiting this title, and this latest standalone is sure to gain her many new ones. Reviewer: Allison Hunter Hill
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-15
There's not a lot that Ember is certain about except that she barely survived a horrific car accident, and her passenger did not. After emergency surgery followed by eight months in a hospital, 17-year-old Ember arrives home with many visible scars, but the most troubling are those that don't show. Her memory is fragmented; some of her recollections of the crash and of her life before that fateful night are jumbled, while others are simply missing. She scans her bedroom for clues and finds a business card for a dance club called Areacode. In hopes it will shake loose a memory, Ember takes the subway to the club, where she meets Kai, a handsome, engaging artist to whom she is instantly drawn. Not wanting to worry her overprotective parents—or be hassled by them—Ember keeps their growing relationship under wraps. Something about the electrifying and elusive Kai allows Ember to be herself, to feel alive and ready to pursue her own dreams. Readers will feel right at home with the dialogue; sarcasm, glee and angst are spoken in pitch-perfect teenagese. That the story's emotional currents are weaker than the engaging narrative is no matter; Ember's unraveling of the mystery is compelling enough to keep the pages turning quickly and steadily. The startling conclusion itself is worth the ride, and chances are that readers' "aha" moment won't come any sooner than Ember's. (Mystery. 12 & up)
School Library Journal
11/01/2013
Gr 8 Up—Ember has spent the last eight months in rehabilitation, recovering physically and emotionally from a near-fatal car accident. She can't remember the night of the event or the six weeks leading up to it. She has recovered enough, though, to return home to Brooklyn, New York, and resume her old life-now as a high school senior. Dr. P from the hospital explained that her memory loss is likely a function of her brain's natural defense mechanism, protecting her from traumatic memories while her body heals. Who was she before the accident? As Ember struggles to acclimate to life at home, negotiating the worries of her parents; her friendship with Rachel; and the attention of her ex-boyfriend, Holden, and of her new love interest, Kai, her memory slowly starts to return and the truth of who she was and where she was going that night become clear. Griffin has crafted a story with well-developed characters and a suspenseful plot that keeps readers turning pages. Her exploration of traumatic brain injury, in particular the role memory can play in the healing process, adds depth as well as potential points of entry for discussion.—Ragan O'Malley, Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385752725
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 11/12/2013
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 157,975
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

ADELE GRIFFIN is the acclaimed author of many books for young readers, including Sons of Liberty and Where I Want to Be, both National Book Award finalists. She is also the author of All You Never Wanted, Tighter, Picture the Dead, The Julian Game, and the Witch Twins and Vampire Island middle-grade series. Adele lives with her husband and children in Brooklyn, New York.

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Read an Excerpt

In pitch dark I go walking in your landscape —Radiohead

1

The Time of Your Life
         
I got back from lunch to find they’d cleaned out my room. They’d even taken my nameplate off the door. According to Addington Hospital, EMBER LEFERRIER had already left the building.

And I would be on my way, in just a few minutes. Strange that I’d slept in this narrow metal bed for eight months. Looking around, I could already feel my time here losing shape. I’d never felt real at Addington. I’d never been me here. I’d been a restoration project, and now I was done.

Earlier this morning, I’d jammed eight months into two brown cardboard boxes that were now in the lobby, ready to load into my parents’ car. I’d rechecked under the bed, in the cupboard, inside each desk drawer.

Yep. I was finished. I was gone.

Maybe I needed a final gesture. A secret note for the next broken person. Should I use a file to scrape my initials E. G. L. into the windowsill? Or I could carve out some vintage Green Day: “I hope you had the time of your life.”

Or . . . was that just mean?

Skip it. Mean was the last thing I felt.

Fragile. Freezing. Lonely. I felt crudely refashioned, like a Frankenstein monster. Barely on this earth, like a ghost.

2

You’re Always Embie

But the terror didn’t hit me until I buckled in. My parents had driven up in their new Prius—a different car, of course, from the family Volvo that I’d totaled. They’d leased it some months ago, but I’d never seen it.

Now they were taking me home in it.

On the hospital’s front steps, I hugged Summer and Gab, my two favorite nurses. Even Dr. P had braved the cloudless glare of October sunlight to leave his office. He fit his arm around my shoulders—“okay, and you’ve got my email, my cell”—shook hands with Dad, and kissed my mother on the cheek.

Then he whispered something in Mom’s ear, something kind and supportive, probably. I couldn’t hear what, but I saw her eyes fill. I wanted to do something, too. Squeeze her hand, tell her I was okay. But it felt more important to be still, to show calm. I’d had so many meltdowns, there had been so many tears. If I could stay on the verge, then I wouldn’t tip over.

And now we were off.

It might have been my father’s harmonizing to the radio. Or my mom’s twist-arounds to check that all of my needs had been met.

“Are you cold, honey? Or maybe it’s stuffy, a teeny bit hot in here? Would you like some water? Hang on, I have a bottle.” Mom always had deep concerns about hydration.

Or it could have been that final turn out of Addington’s harp-shaped iron gates.

Whatever it was, being confronted with it—that the thing I’d wanted most for eight months was now actually happening, right now, in motion—the fear began to take hold of me. I wasn’t ready. I’d been put in a dunk tank, only instead of water, I’d plunged into a bottomless panic. I bit the insides of my cheeks. What was scaring me? This didn’t make sense. There were no surprises where I was going. Just nice, boring home with my nice, boring parents and my nice, boring life before the accident.

The accident, the recovery. What had happened in February sometimes sounded like another person’s dream, endlessly retold to me. Even yesterday, Dr. Pipini was still warning me about case studies where brain-trauma victims are forever attacked by headaches and auras or episodes of vertigo. That we’re susceptible to night sweats, tremors, and ringing in the ears. Sometimes we regain memory—a smidgen, or about half, or sometimes even all of it.

But sometimes everything is lost.

Studies had proved so much. In fact, every single thing I’d experienced in connection with my accident seemed to have another person’s case study already stapled to it. Dr. P said I was lucky to have lost only six weeks of memory before the night of February 14th. According to Dr. P, this wasn’t a lot.

Studies had proved the normalcy of my ordeal.

As the car E-ZPassed over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and then hooked up with the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to Atlantic Avenue, I breathed through the kink in my stomach. For weeks, the urge to get back to Brooklyn had been strong as a riptide inside me. So why did every mile that widened between me and Addington increase my desire to return to the safety of the hospital?

I felt lightheaded, empty-handed. Like I’d forgotten to pack things. Big things. Things I needed. No, no, no, I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t complete, I couldn’t face down the real world.

Because Addington hadn’t been the real world. It had been a space to rebuild myself from parts. To practice being human again.

Dad drove impossibly slowly and smoothly, as if the car were filled with crates of eggs and bowls of goldfish. Onto Atlantic, left on Hicks, and another left.

Same thin brownstone. Same balding olive carpet, same rummage of catalogs and flyers on the front hall table. My parents were a tag team of worry.

“Ember, why don’t you leave your suitcase for us to take up with the boxes?”

“Some tea, sweetie? You look tired.”

“No, I can handle it. I’m not thirsty. I feel fine.”

I left them downstairs. Would it always be like this? Then again, it had always been something like this. Mom was a math professor and Dad up till his retirement last year had taught music, and their personalities played out along those roles. Right down to my mother’s logical list-making and Dad’s inability to exist in a room without layering a harmony into it.

But when it came to me, my parents wore their worry in a matched set. Batting at me like catnip with the nervous paws of their excess fears.

On the landing, I felt faint. I caught the stairwell and my breath. I waited a moment, gathering myself, before I opened the door into my past. Hello bedroom of slanted pine floors and wildflower wallpaper. Hello faded friendship quilt. Hello braided rug, ballet bar; hello farmhouse door that Dad had refinished three years ago, the summer I’d turned fourteen. All that July, I’d watched him sand and finish it, then paint it my specially-picked-at-Sherwin-Williams color, periwinkle, and mount it on blocks for me to use as a desk.

The room had that same walnut-gingerbread smell, but it was also musty and unused—despite the ferny bloom of marigolds Mom had placed on my windowsill. Almost everything in this room was as natural as my own voice.

Almost.

The back of my neck prickled hotly. My room wasn’t quite as I’d left it. Something was wrong here. Something was off.

Deep breath. I was just in shock to be home.

And maybe I was overreacting to tiny things, like these fancy arty pens, fanned out in the lopsided glazed pot I’d made in fourth grade. When had I bought them? Slowly, I picked up a silver pen, popped its cap, sniffed the ink, and then marked my hand with a funny-looking sideways A.

Huh, why had I done that? So automatic, almost thoughtless.

Now I was teetering on the verge of being on the edge; I went as still as the room as my eyes roved around for the next oddity. What was this, wedged in the upper corner of my door mirror? A ticket stub for a movie I’d never seen. I darted to it. I didn’t remember anything about that movie—the title was in German, I couldn’t even pronounce it.

And here, what was this? A black business card for a dance club called Areacode out in Bushwick. Areacode? I must have gone to that club, right? And it had been memorable enough that I had a souvenir.

The poster tacked to my wall corkboard startled me most.

Whoa, how had I not seen that, first thing? When’d I put that up? I didn’t know any group called Weregirl. I stared. Against a rusted sunburst apocalypse posed three guys and one girl, all dressed in old-fashioned military jackets.

My heart was pounding. But I hadn’t heard this band’s music. I hadn’t tacked up this poster. Or bought those. Or seen that. Okay, okay, calm down. This must have happened inside the memory sinkhole. The missing weeks. Dr. P and I had shared multiple discussions about this.

Weregirl: The Reconnaissance Tour

It was lettered in retro-typewriter ink along the bottom of the poster, with a list of dates from last winter. WEST TWENTY-FIRST AND SURF AVENUE was circled in blue, for a March 12th concert. Of course, I’d never made it to the show. By March 12 I was at Addington, relearning how to walk and chew food.

Five minutes home and I was unraveling. My armpits damp, my breath shallow. And I hadn’t even left my room.

“Remember your PBR.” I could hear Dr. Pipini’s voice in my ear.

Positioning, Breathing, Relaxation.

Slowly, I unclenched my hands. My back was pinching—I dropped to a hinge, tried to touch my toes. Forced my mouth into a smile—“smiling helps when you feel worst,” Summer always said—and then rolled up.

Okay. I would finish excavating my room later. Now I unzipped my suitcase, which spilled out the time capsule of my convalescence. It was strangely comforting. All the familiar paperbacks that had been lined up on my hospital shelf, along with my textbooks and progress notebooks. Sweatpants and T-shirts, scrubs and Crocs. Get-well cards and stuffed animals and even my temporary teeth—a bridge they’d created for me to use for a couple of months before I’d gotten my permanent veneer implants.

The temp teeth had been too fascinatingly ugly not to keep. After a moment’s thought, I placed them on my bureau between my sandalwood jewelry box and the photo I’d framed of my parents from a few Thanksgivings ago.

God, my parents had aged drastically. Because of me. My fault, all my fault.

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  • Posted February 23, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Loud Awake and Lost delivers what it promises.. a spooky thrilli

    Loud Awake and Lost delivers what it promises.. a spooky thrilling contemporary read that has you questioning everything. Ember, the main protagonist has just been released from a rehabilitation center, 8 months after a car accident that led to multiple breaks, fractures, and near death surgeries, as well as a black whole in the six weeks prior to her accident. When Ember gets back home and back to school, what people are saying as well as what her room looks like don't add up. She seems to be into new music, hanging out with a different crowd her school friends don't know about, as well as a mysterious guy that she can't even remember. This book follows Ember dealing with her PTSD, her memory loss, and everyone's expectation of her going back to the Ember before her change.  I personally loved this book. There is a big twist in the end that I sort of knew was coming (when I had a hunch I stupidly checked the last couple of pages and confirmed my theory) however that didn't deter me from reading and enjoying Loud Awake and Lost. I really sympathized with Ember and what she was going through, especially after finding out more forgotten memories that caused her even more pain. I loved how Griffin so easily made me connect with Ember. I love characters that I could share their pain and hurt, their happiness and hopes; that was Ember for me. If you are expecting a murder mystery or a villain, then I suggest you rearrange your expectations because this one is free of that. I couldn't put the book down and wanted to read more, not just more of Ember but also of her best friend's life, her ex-boyfriend who just came back into her life, as well as her parents. At only 300 pages, this one was a quick read with a thrilling plot line, likable main protagonist, and great secondary characters. I recommend it to any YA contemporary readers, especially ones that love a little mystery in their stories. 

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